Cap­tain de­scribes his life on the wa­ter

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE | TRAVEL - — XU LIN

For Cap­tain Ti­homir Muzic, the Costa At­lantica rep­re­sents the Ital­ian way of life in terms of fash­ion and movies from the 1960s.

“The cap­tain is ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for the ship. A ship is like a float­ing ho­tel, but it’s dif­fer­ent from ho­tels on­shore,” he says.

The cruise ves­sel has about 850 crew mem­ber from 37 na­tion­al­i­ties, and a ca­pac­ity of 2,680 guests. Nearly 20 per­cent of crew are Chi­nese, but the plan is to in­crease the ra­tio to about 40 per­cent.

The non-Chi­nese crew learn sim­ple Chi­nese, to bet­ter serve the guests.

The cap­tain also has so­cial obli­ga­tions.

When guests first ar­rive, they go to the the­ater for a cock­tail gala. Here, the cap­tain meets the guests, shake hands with them, poses for pic­tures, and then presents his se­nior of­fi­cers.

He is on call 24/7 and has to be avail­able in case of emer­gen­cies like bad weather, poor vis­i­bil­ity or busy traf­fic.

Dock­ing the ship is the most com­pli­cated part of the trip, and the cap­tain has to be there to plan this with his of­fi­cers, and with the help of a lo­cal pi­lot.

When the cruise ships docks, it takes on wa­ter and food and offloads waste.

“All our op­er­a­tions are based on two prin­ci­ples — that we ac­com­plish them on time, and that we con­duct them safely and in an environmentally sus­tain­able way,” he says.

“We do things safely. That’s why we plan ev­ery­thing well in ad­vance.”

He also says though the ship is built with safety in mind, the crew also has to be pro­fes­sional. They have to be pre­pared for emer­gen­cies, and they sim­u­late dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios such as fire and col­li­sions. Even when guests are on board, the crews are in train­ing.

There is also a med­i­cal team on board. Be­sides, fa­cil­i­ties on board such as toi­lets are adapted for use by the phys­i­cally chal­lenged.

And, in emer­gen­cies, a team of 25-30 crew mem­bers is as­signed to as­sist the phys­i­cally chal­lenged.

“When I was a lit­tle boy, I al­ways wanted to be a cap­tain and travel the world. Now, I find that ed­u­ca­tion and prac­ti­cal knowl­edge are two things needed to be a cap­tain,” says Muzic.

To be a cap­tain, one has to study sub­jects such as nav­i­ga­tion and math­e­mat­ics in marine schools or acad­e­mies.

“It’s a big field to cover. Some say that a cap­tain has to know a lit­tle of ev­ery­thing. We also study English to com­mu­ni­cate with crew mem­bers from dif­fer­ent coun­tries,” he says.

He also says that tech­ni­cal knowl­edge with­out prac­tice doesn’t help much. So, one has to start from the low­est po­si­tion and be pro­moted as ex­pe­ri­ence ac­cu­mu­lates un­til one be­comes the most com­pe­tent on the ship.

“When I started my ca­reer many years ago, there was no GPS or satel­lite tech­nol­ogy. So, us­ing the com­pass, in­vented by the Chi­nese, I had to ob­serve the stars and make cal­cu­la­tions to know our po­si­tion. If there were no stars, there were er­rors in the cal­cu­la­tions.

“To­day, it’s very easy with the ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy. Ev­ery sec­ond I know where we are,” he says, point­ing to the maps on three LCD mon­i­tors on his desk show­ing the ves­sel’s lo­ca­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to him, ev­ery re­gion is dif­fer­ent. Asia’s waters are pretty but from a nav­i­ga­tion point of view, it’s de­mand­ing. Also, in sum­mer, there are ty­phoons, and in win­ter a lot of rain and fog. There is also a lot of traf­fic some­times, with a lot of fish­ing boats.

The ves­sel may some­times take a dif­fer­ent route based on weather con­di­tions. So, if a ty­phoon is ap­proach­ing, the ship will try and avoid it, head to an al­ter­na­tive port or stay in a port for more time.

“When I was young I thought my coun­try Italy was the most beau­ti­ful. But, as I see more of the world and meet more peo­ple, I think that all places are beau­ti­ful,” he says.

Muzic loves Asia’s cul­ture and its de­li­cious food.

And he says: “The best way to travel is to cruise. You have plenty of space and ev­ery day you’re in dif­fer­ent place.”

XU LIN / CHINA DAILY

Ti­homir Muzic, cap­tain of the Costa At­lantica.

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